Milan, buzzing from their midweek victory against Barcelona, made a few changes to the side that beat Parma 2-1 last week, using a mixture of those players and the ones involved in the Barca win. Perhaps most significantly, Massimiliano Allegri moved Mattia De Sciglio to left-back, putting Ignazio Abate in on the right and dropping Kevin Constant altogether. Riccardo Montolivo was left in place to orchestrate the midfield, while the trident of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy led the attack.
Andrea Stramaccioni, hoping desperately to cling to his job, also changed things up, revamping the Inter side that lost 4-1 to Fiorentina last week. Gone from the middle were Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Mateo Kovacic, replaced by Walter Gargano, while Fredy Guarin and Ricardo Alvarez flanked Rodrigo Palacio, with Antonio Cassano playing just in front.
At first, it looked as though Strama's changes would pay off, with the nerazzurri looking much brighter than they had in Florence. However, it took less than ten minutes for reality to sink in: even looking brighter than last week, Inter were still fragile, ready to be pulled apart by their rivals.
Milan knew exactly how to tear apart their opponents: take everything up the left side and then get the ball to Mario Balotelli. Nagatomo was the weak link in the already fragile Inter defense, and time and time again, De Sciglio made him pay. By the sixth minute, the nerazzurri had already had a close call, with De Sciglio shooting just wide of the post.
The attack continued to pour forth from the left, but for some unknown reason, Stramaccioni made no changes, not even switching Nagatomo with Javier Zanetti. Milan nearly made them pay in the 15th minute, when De Sciglio sent in a great cross to Balotelli, but the forward couldn't finish from six yards out.
Instead it was El Shaarawy that gave the rossoneri their opening goal. Cassano foolishly gave the ball away in midfield, allowing Boateng to slip through a lovely ball to the Little Pharoah. El Shaarawy sent in a wonderful goal, smashing his shot under the bar and giving Samir Handanovic no chance.
It was Inter's keeper that kept his side in the match until halftime, however. It was due to his clever hands that Milan only managed one goal in the first 45. The Slovenian denied Balotelli three times within fifteen minutes, including stopping a lovely free kick that dipped over the wall.
Despite his side being utterly outclassed in the first half, the only change Stramaccioni made at the break was to switch Zanetti and Nagatomo. But considering just how badly Nagatomo was handling El Shaarawy and De Sciglio, the change did make a difference, with Zanetti able to stay calm and in position.
In the 54th minute, Christian Abbiati had the chance to show up counterpart Handanovic. Guarin and Palacio had a great little back and forth, resulting in a sharp shot from Guarin, but Abbiati had an even better save, allowing Milan to keep hold of the lead.
On the other end, the Handanovic show continued. Antonio Nocerino slipped past the nerazzurri defense to slid the ball across the face of goal. With Balotelli about to run on, Handanovic dove forward to snatch the ball, earning himself a boot in the head from his efforts. Fortunately for Inter, the keeper managed to shake it off.
And then came the moment that had seemed so improbable in the first half: the Inter equalizer. Ezequiel Schelotto, on for Esteban Cambiasso, needed just three minutes to score a goal. Nagatomo put in the cross, Philippe Mexes mistimed his jump, and Schelotto climbed up over him, heading on past Abbiati. It was his first goal in an Inter shirt -- and what a way to endear himself to interisti forever.
Strama then decided it would be best to keep a point rather than give Milan all three, immediately introducing defensive midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic in place of Alvarez. Allegri kept pressing for a point, however, replacing Boateng with M'Baye Niang and El Shaarawy with Bojan.
Inter Milan: Samir Handanovic; Javier Zanetti, Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Jesus, Yuto Nagatomo (Cristian Chivu 77); Walter Gargano, Esteban Cambiasso (Ezequiel Schelotto 68), Ricardo Alvarez (Zdravko Kuzmanovic 74), Fredy Guarin; Rodrigo Palacio, Antonio Cassano
AC Milan: Christian Abbiati; Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zapata, Philippe Mexes, Mattia De Sciglio; Sulley Muntari, Riccardo Montolivo, Antonio Nocerino; Kevin-Prince Boateng (M'baye Niang 81), Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy (Bojan Krkic 87)
Goals: El Shaarawy 21 (M); Schelotto 71 (I)